The first comprehensive book on Animal Osteopathy

by Tony Nevin, BSc (Hons) Ost., DO. Zoo Ost Ltd

Despite the osteopathic profession being more than 130 years old, and although there are decades of clinical experience applying osteopathy to treat animals, there are currently only two published books and one self published book on equine osteopathy.

If we look at chiropractic there are a few that cover the equine and canine patient. Physiotherapy has more than the other two professions combined.

Why has the osteopathic profession been so slow at producing text suitable to teaching future generations? This is a question I have long asked myself.

As clinical director on the Animal Osteopathy masters program run in conjunction with the McTimoney College I have found it frustrating to have little published text to offer our students. There is a vast body of knowledge from a clinical standpoint, with some published research, as well as lots that hasn’t been published.

Due to this vacuum in osteopathic literature I set about putting together a team of the most suitable and respected osteopaths and veterinary surgeons in as many fields of animal work as I could reasonably fit into a single textbook. It hadn’t escaped my attention that I was part of the problem, busy in clinical practice and teaching, yet having only produced a handful of research based papers over the space of 30 years.

I had a publisher in mind, and once I had set out a framework for the book, with chapters covering specific types of animals and birds, I started negotiations with them.

The sheer volume of work required to put this first of a kind book together dictated the need to have a strong team of contributors from both professions. Due to the symbiotic working relationship that our two professions have I wanted to have at least one osteopath, and one vet contribute to each chapter.

This not only provided the opportunity to get the best clinical minds to distil their knowledge onto paper but would also demonstrate why we should be working together.

Once we had the publishers on board I set about designing a modular approach to each chapter. This was created to allow easy navigation between different chapters, and also great care and attention was placed in designing the book so that all could read it. To make the book as globally attractive as possible it was also decided that American English would be used, along with standard veterinary terminology so that all of the veterinary and para-professions could understand the text. A large glossary of terms has been included to further assist the student or practitioner.

A total of 19 people have contributed to writing the book, with three of them also acting as editors, myself included. There were also two expert anatomical artists recruited to create the beautiful illustrations. They all form an international network and are highly respected within their professions.

There are 10 chapters in total. The first introduces animal osteopathy and some of the specific aspects of this section of the profession, as well as containing a useful table of known zoonotic diseases. The other nine chapters cover in detail applying osteopathy to the treatment of the dog, cat, small furries, the horse, livestock, reptiles, birds, small wildlife, and megafauna.

The book has taken a while to compile and edit, partly due to the need to involve only those with the clinical knowledge, both in depth and scope, which meant involving colleagues who were already very busy. It is to their credit, and my eternal gratitude that they agreed to be involved. Without such a team this book would have been very much poorer.

From the outset the book was designed to meet a teaching requirement to support students up to and including at least masters level (MSc), and to serve as a launch pad for those wishing to pursue a PhD.

I think we have managed this. Certainly there is a vast content of knowledge not previously shared before that will be readily available to all who purchase a copy. It should also appeal to members of the other manual therapies who want to better understand what it is we do, why we do it, and how. It has not been designed to create a short cut to working with animals, but rather to create a more unified profession through international teaching.

Within each chapter there is a section covering specific considerations, anatomy, orthopaedic problems, differential diagnosis, osteopathic evaluation, osteopathic treatment, case studies, summary, and reference section. In certain chapters there are specific health and safety measures.

Line drawings, as well as colour and black and white photographs, punctuate the text to clearly illustrate throughout each chapter. All this and a rather snazzy book cover have been a part of my life now for over 5 years of evenings, weekends, and holidays. Writing it was the easy part. Editing was much harder. As anyone will know, trying to get a bunch of osteopaths to agree on something and stick to a template is akin to herding cats. Add in a bunch of vets too and it has been pandemonium on occasions. However I would also add that it has been an amazing experience made all the richer by these fantastic people.

The book should be available hot off the press whilst this edition of the magazine is still current. Published by Handspring Publishing, they can be found at www.

The full title of the book is Animal Osteopathy, A comprehensive guide to the osteopathic treatment of animals and birds. Editors Tony Nevin, Chris Colles, Paolo Tozzi. ISBN 978-1-909141-30-8. There will also be an independent review of it in the magazine from one of the editors/contributors (other than myself of course) soon.